What is Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning?
The golden bird’s nest is a common houseplant and may also be seen in businesses and offices. There is no stalk as the green and yellow leaves grow straight up from the roots to reach about four feet tall. Flowers are small and white, but if kept indoors, they rarely bloom. It can only be grown outdoors in warm climates, such as Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Nigeria is the golden bird’s nest’s home and there it may be called a good luck plant or snake plant.
The golden bird’s nest is known by many names, but what some may not know is that it is poisonous to canines. The whole plant (which is just leaves and occasional flowers) contains saponins, which can make your dog very ill if consumed. If your dog only consumes a small amount of golden bird’s nest, the chances are good that stomach irritation and vomiting will be the only side effect. However, with a large ingestion, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and ruptured blood cells from blood cell damage can occur. Although it is rare for golden bird’s nest poisoning to be fatal, if your dog is elderly, ill, or very young, death from dehydration is possible.
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Symptoms of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of golden bird’s nest plant poisoning are usually mild unless your dog is older, ill, or very young. The common symptoms are:
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain and bloating
The golden bird’s nest (Sansevieria trifasciata), from the Asparagaceae family, has several other names it is known by:
- Snake plant
- Mother-in-law’s tongue
- Good luck plant
- Viper’s bowstring hemp
- George’s sword
Causes of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Dogs
The poisonous substances in the golden bird’s nest plant are saponins, which cause intestinal upset from the natural foaming ability and the rupturing of red blood cells. This blood cell rupture is produced by disrupting the cells’ pathways and may cause further symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea.
Diagnosis of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Dogs
If possible, bring a photograph or part of the plant to the clinic to show the veterinarian. This may make diagnosis easier and help determine the treatment plan for your pet. The veterinarian will assess your dog’s health with a comprehensive physical examination and your description of the symptoms you have seen. She will get your pet’s weight, blood pressure, pulse, breath sounds, reflexes, body temperature, skin condition, and abdominal palpation.
Blood tests are usually needed to get a complete blood cell count, glucose level, and chemical profile. If your dog has been experiencing vomiting and diarrhea, a packed cell volume (PCV) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test will be done along with a check of your dog’s electrolytes (sodium and potassium). Urinalysis and fecal examination may also be necessary to rule out infections. Additional testing may include radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, and possibly an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Treatment of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Dogs
In the majority of poisoning cases, the treatment is the same. This usually includes inducing your dog to vomit, fluid therapy, medications, and sometimes hospitalization and observation.
The veterinarian will induce vomiting with either a hydrogen peroxide solution or ipecac. Activated charcoal will be given to absorb any leftover toxins and a gastric lavage may be used to rinse the rest of the plant residue from your dog’s stomach.
Intravenous (IV) fluids will be administered to rehydrate your dog to prevent dehydration. This will also flush the toxins through the kidneys faster, preventing kidney damage.
If your pet is still vomiting at this point, the veterinarian will administer antiemetic medication and a stomach protectant such as a histamine blocker or antacid. Electrolytes will be added to the IV if your dog is found to be dehydrated.
Hospitalization and Observation
In the case of golden bird’s nest poisoning, hospitalization is usually not necessary, but if your dog is seriously ill, the veterinarian may decide to keep your pet overnight for observation.
Recovery of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Dogs
A complete recovery is usually pretty simple and fast after the toxins are removed from your dog’s system. With older or ill dogs, or puppies, it may take a little longer, but as long as you received prompt treatment, prognosis is usually very good.
Remove the golden bird’s nest plant from your home or garden or put it in a place where your dog is not able to access it . Be sure to check your yard and home for other toxic plants as well. If you are not sure which plants are poisonous to dogs, your veterinarian should be able to give you a list or can direct you to where you can find this information. If not, you can always find that information on the Internet. Call your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s treatment or have any questions.